Tag Archives: school nutrition

2011 Foodservice Trends and 2012 Predictions

Last December, we searched all over and compiled a list of 10 foodservice trends for 2011.  Overall, all 10 items on our list have been successful as far as the predictions go.  Take a look at the list for a quick refresher, then read below about some of the major trends that have now become mainstream.

Food Trucks

It’s been incredible to see how the food truck has evolved this year.  They’ve gone from something people were skeptical about to full-blown restaurants on wheels, serving everything from comfort foods and pizza to ethnic cuisine and desserts.

According to the Mashable infographic, “The Rise of the Social Food Truck,” almost 2.5 billion people eat street food.  Food trucks heavily rely on social media, which for most is their No. 1 way to advertise.  They just send out a tweet and Facebook status about where they will be and when.  This gives customers the convenience of different options close to them.

What is even more fascinating is how many food trucks team up together, park near each other or event go to events together.  Whether you love the food or own a truck , check out the Mobile Cuisine website for some great information on the industry.

Social Media/Mobile Ordering and Apps

While many restaurants have probably been using social media for quite some time, it seems as though this year its fully come mainstream.  In Nation Restaurant News’ webinar “The State of Social Media for Restaurants,” panelist Paul Barron (founder of DigitalCoCo) said in his presentation,

“87 percent of restaurant brands have identified social media as a main force for guest connection.”

After all, according to this New York Times article, social media is the most popular way Americans spend time online.

When looking into mobile ordering and apps, restaurants are implementing tablets (i.e. the iPad) in restaurants more and more to increase customer service and productivity (note—these aren’t replacing the wait staff).

At this year’s MUFSO conference (Multi-Unit Foodservice Operator), during New York Times’ Technology Columnist David Pogue’s session, he stressed the importance of restaurants not only using social media but to start looking into smart-phone apps too.  We’ve seen restaurants bring in the tablet, but having an app could be another solution to increasing productivity.  Pogue did take into consideration restaurant’s fears of using social media. His response was,

“But if you use it right, there are some incredible things you can do.”

Better Nutrition and Local/Hyper-Local

This year we’ve seen huge changes with restaurants becoming healthier.

Image from ChooseMyPlate.gov

Restaurants like McDonald’s and Arby’s have changed out fries with apple slices in their kid’s meals, Darden Restaurants recently announced their goal to lower sodium and calorie counts must be posted in certain areas–just to name a few.

The food pyramid got a fresh look this year too, as the USDA released “MyPlate” which replaced the food pyramid.

Schools are definitely headed in a healthier direction with updated nutritional standards.  The School Nutrition Association (SNA) gave the following statistics in this press release from their State of School Nutrition:

  • 98% of American school districts offer fresh fruit and vegetables
  • 97% have expanded the access of whole grains
  • 89% offer salad bars or pre-packaged salads
  • 98% have fat-free or 1% milk

Schools have also added many programs that work to bring in local foods.  When it comes to local in general, people and restaurants are pushing more support for local farmers.  Many restaurants are even taking local a step further and going hyper-local by growing their own food.

What’s In Store for 2012?

Image by Gregory Dicum on the NY Times website

While predictions for 2012 foodservice trends are just now beginning to surface, there are a few to start watching.  We may start to see more artisan and comfort foods on menus and maybe even celebrity food growers (which take it a step ahead of celebrity restaurants).

A trend that we’re already starting to notice is the “all-day” menu at restaurants that meet the demand for food at all hours of the day and night.  Also, pop-up restaurants may also be on the rise.  They are already starting to appear more and more, such as “Goodness,” a fashion week pop-up that provided healthy menu options.

We’ll continue to follow these and will provide our Top 10 Foodservice Trends for 2012 at the end of December. Let us know, what are you seeing? What’s been your favorite trend of 2011?

What’s Been Going On with National School Meal and Fitness Programs?

Even though students have been out of the classroom and cafeteria for the summer, the national programs have kept themselves busy.  Much has been going on and as students are heading back, here is a recap of a few important events.

SNA’s “The State of School Nutrition 2011”

Image from SNA website

The School Nutrition Association (SNA) released their “School Nutrition Operations Report: The State of School Nutrition 2011,” and it looks like many schools will be guiding their students in a healthier direction.

They reported in this press release, “…more than 69 percent of the 1,294 directors surveyed consider implementing recently proposed nutrition standards for school meals, which require more of these healthy options, to be their top concern.” The lack of healthy foods was caused by a combination of funding limitations and food costs.  Now, schools all over the country are working hard to serve more nutritious meals. Click here for the full press release.

The USDA Grants Over $7.5 Million To National School Meal Programs

Stemming from SNA’s “The State of School Nutrition 2011,” many schools claimed monetary issues as the reason behind a lack of healthier foods.  Well, it looks as though the USDA has recognized this issue, and found aiding this cause to be a great investment.

On August 18 they announced this grant, (stated in this press release), and said by granting this money, it will “improve efficiency and accuracy of National School Lunch and Breakfast programs.” States awarded grants include Hawaii, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Washington.  They mention grant periods will be between one and three years.  To find full information, click here for their full press release.

Let’s Move! Holds Family Fitness Day

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative has been inspiring schools, children, parents, etc. to live a healthier lifestyle filled with nutritious foods and exercise.   On August 22, they held a Let’s Move Outside! Family Fitness Day at Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.

According to the Let’s Move website, there were around 400 children and their parents in attendance.  The event held their first “Spectacle Island 5K Race and Kids Fun Run,” and also included various exercise and activity programs and workshops.


Below are a list of resources to bookmark to keep informed during this school year:

Afterschool Snacks

Let’s Move! Blog

National School Lunch Program

National School Breakfast Program

School Nutrition Association News

USDA Newsroom

Changing the American Lunch Room

Schools are back in session and while the classroom is very important, the lunch room plays a very significant role to students. Whether it is revising layout and design or implementing healthier foods, any change to your lunch room can be beneficial to students.  Schools across the United States are implementing these different changes to better their cafeterias.

In a recent article by School Nutrition Magazine, they featured “Color Your Cafeteria Beautiful” which explains the benefits of adding color and vibrance to the cafeteria as opposed to the all too familiar “fluorescent lighting and cinderblock walls.”  They discovered adding color can actually build participation, encourage students towards different menu items, and promote a positive attitude for everyone.

file000826359266Children have been introduced to (and are enjoying) healthier foods such as bean soup, turkey sandwiches and salads with a light dressing. They also are providing a variety of low fat milks as well as plain skim. They do acknowledge different flavors have almost twice the amount of sugar in them, however, have listened to experts who say the benefits of calcium outweigh the amount of sugar.

Instead of serving lunch, schools in the Roanoke district have an “offer” model which allows students to take only what they are planning to eat and in return decreases waste. And now during the few days where menu items like sloppy joes are available, students are going for the turkey sandwich instead!

So if you are trying to decide whether or not to make changes to your lunch room, consider the short and long term benefits it will have for your students and your school by making it a better and healthier environment.

We’re Back From the School Nutrition Association Conference: Great Reviews!

This year Central Restaurant Products took some exclusive products to show at the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference and we received some great feedback! 

Customers loved our Central Exclusive trays, especially the Blue!

Not only did customers love the trays but they also complimented Central’s service levels, quick shipping and competitive pricing.

As far as attendance, there seemed to be less people at the conference this year but it was still fairly crowded.

The vendors had very few new products for this conference but most of them said they would be releasing new items during NAFEM. We will keep you posted on this.

Thanks to all who came out to visit the booth and support the School Nutrition Association.

Central Restaurant Products is Heading to Dallas!

The School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference (ANC) will be in Dallas this year. The conference will be home to more than 80 educational sessions that will provide new perspectives and best practices for your school’s nutrition program, and will play host to many vendors and distributors of foodservice equipment.

This conference could not come at a better time. In the current times of obesity in children and the Let’s Move! campaign school nutrition is under the microscope. Attend the seminars to learn how to provide healthier alternatives to children, how to prepare and produce food, plan menus, promote a positive image on your nutrition program and more.

Visit the exhibit hall to learn about the newest equipment available in the foodservice industry. Some of the vendors in attendance include; Cleveland Range, San Jamar, The Vollrath Company and of course, Central Restaurant Products.

Visit Don Hogan and Sarah Templeton at booth #1733 for your chance to win a CanPro. Also come see the Metro Holding and Transport Cabinet and samples of our exclusive compartment trays.

These trays are one of many products offered exclusively from Central.

Central has worked hard to bring you exceptional value on exclusive offerings you cannot get anywhere else! All Central Exclusive products have the following features:

  • Equal or better quality than the leading national brand
  • Value engineered by Central’s team of Product Experts
  • Offered only to Central Customers!

Enjoy the ANC, stop by our booth with any questions you may have and for your chance to WIN!

Childhood Obesity: How To avoid it.

Childhood obesity is becoming a very serious issue and health risk. 1/3 of American children are considered overweight or obese. There is speculation as to why this is happening and theories on how to fix it. Communities are coming together to create healthier eating environments, to teach children about healthy foods and to create healthier food options at schools. Baldwin Park, California is one example. A national group called Healthy Kids Healthy Communities has expanded to this town. They have been able to make salad bars a stable in local schools, 100 minutes of physical education every week a requirement and place labels at groceries to show healthy food choices. After doing this in 5 years over 135 children are no longer overweight.

Experts believe it is becoming a luxury to eat healthy foods. They are more expensive. We all know examples within our local grocery stores buy one example of this in the fast food industry is McDonald’s. It costs less to buy a large value meal including a drink than it does to buy a salad and bottle of water. Many people believe increasing taxes by 1 penny per ounce on sugary foods and drinks would cut the consumption by 10% and raise billions of dollars to fight obesity.

Experts have many opinions on what should be done to fight obesity, but not all are in agreement. The basics are as they always have been, modernized of course.

  • Expand the idea of exercise. Take up rollerblading, golfing, swimming, or karate. If you would prefer to stay inside invest in a Wii fit or other game that will raise your heartbeat.
  • Make it easy: Plan ahead. Children should exercise approximately 1 hour a day. If they aren’t in after school activities be ready to do some sort of exercise in the evening.
  • Make exercise a family affair. Parents are role models. Go outside and play with your kids, turn on your Wii fit and work out, go rollerblading. Do things together.

Watch the following video for more information on childhood obesity.


School Nutrition: An Important Issue in Changing Times

The world is changing. People are going green, health care is being reformed, and people all over the world are looking to get healthier. This can be seen in First Lady Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and Action for Healthy Kids among others. All of these initiatives focus on one thing, getting children healthier. The reason? This generation of children may face a shorter expected lifespan than their parents because of health issues caused by obesity. School nutrition is where these initiatives are starting.

Children eat at least one meal, sometimes two, a day at school. Do you know how the food is prepared or where it is coming from? Are your children getting all the nutrition they need from school lunches? How can you make sure they do? These are all very good questions. These initiatives give you an insight into school nutrition, what it is, what it’s lacking and more.

Check out Game On! the Ultimate Wellness Challenge to find out how to start on the road to healthier children. Register to begin the challenge with your children to a healthier lifestyle. Students Taking Charge gives students the opportunity to create a healthier environment in their schools.

There are many ways to get involved in your child’s nutrition at home and at school. Get more information about your child’s health here and begin making the changes for healthier lifestyles.